Strangebrew: On the podium at Brands Hatch thanks to Advait Deodhar and CAAL Racing

After the first four races at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain and Autodromo Di Franciacorta in Italy, Advait went into the next four races at Brands Hatch and Autodrome Most in the Czech Republic sitting in a very creditable fourth place in the Championship.

Quite an achievement as a genuine ‘rookie’ in a field of 34 drivers, many of whom actually have very considerable racing experience. I joined him at the Brands Hatch weekend where my Strangebrew branding was on his car as one of his secondary sponsors helping him to ‘buy’ his seat and to get a drive for the weekend. My modest investment was very well rewarded, with Advait securing an incredible second place on the podium in Race One on the Saturday and a robust sixth place in Race Two on the Sunday that saw him climb to third in the overall Elite 2 Championship.

Advait, looking back at Brands Hatch you must be very pleased with your performance in that first race on the Saturday. It is no mean feat to put the car eighth on the grid in such esteemed company and particularly impressive given that you were driving a new car and driving with a new team for the first time.

Yes Phil. I was quite pleased with that – especially because I had had very little track time in the car in the Friday free practice sessions to familiarise with the new car and the track. Also, I was working with a new team and they did not know me and I did not know them. I wanted to impress them on my first outing to thank them for the opportunity to drive with them and in the hope that they would continue to allow me to drive one of their cars.

As you say, it was a new team that you were driving with for the last four races at Brands Hatch and Autodrome Most in the Czech Republic. What prompted this change?

As you know, we drivers have to ‘buy’ our seats for the chance to drive at each and every race and it really has been a hand to mouth experience for me trying to get the required level of funding/sponsorship for each race. I was very pleased to be able to negotiate the opportunity to get a drive with the Championship leading Italian CAAL Team alongside and sharing cars with Elite 1 Championship leader Alon Day, the hugely experienced and accomplished Mauro Trione and Ladies Elite 2 Championship Leader, Arianna Casoli. It is just amazing – a real privilege. Everyone in this well run team, including Team Principal Luca Canneori, Corrado Canneori and all the mechanics and engineers, made me feel so welcome.

You began your first season in the Nascar Whelen Euro Series exactly as you intended with a very impressive first race in Spain, moving from fourteenth on the grid through to a well deserved fifth place finish. Not a bad achievement on a circuit that you did not know and in a car that was also effectively new to you but by the time you had completed both races in Spain and the following two races in at Franciacorta in Italy, you were lying third in the overall Elite 2 Championship – not bad for a ‘rookie.’

Yes, I immediately felt at home in the car and felt confident that I could demonstrate my ability in the Nascar Whelen Euro Series in it – and I was really looking forward to driving at Brands Hatch with your support as one of my sponsors.

Compared to the circuits in the first four races, the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch is very short and very tight – quite a challenge in such big cars as the Mustangs and Camaros.

You said it, Phil. Brands is very challenging – especially with 26 cars roaring from the start into Paddock Hill bend with its negative camber and drop and then fighting for position up into the tight hairpin bend at Druids before dropping down to Graham Hill bend. Every corner is a challenge with little opportunity to overtake – but entertaining for spectators too.

The variety of tracks is one of the interesting things about the Euro Nascar Championship, with tracks varying from the very short and tight Indy circuit at Brands Hatch at 1.2 miles long through to longer and wider circuits like the Autodrome Most at 2.6 miles and then on to the half mile long banked oval at Raceway Venray in the Netherlands.

Going back to the Brands Hatch weekend on 1st and 2nd June, you came away with a sixth place finish and then your first podium in the series with an amazing drive from eighth on the grid through to second. Not bad on a tight circuit where overtaking is difficult. It made for good viewing and these drives propelled you through to sit third in the Championship. Once again, not bad for a genuine rookie – and you were lapping within 1/10th of a second of ex Formula One World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve!

It was a very satisfying weekend. I felt that I had delivered a good result for myself and the CAAL Team – and yourself as a sponsor. The car was fantastic, the team were fantastic and it all came together. In the race where I ended up on the podium, I actually finished third on the road but I was elevated to second as the result of a post-race track limits infringement penalty for the second place driver.

Fast forwarding to the weekend of 29th/30th June and the two races at Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic, you did very well by qualifying fifth and sixth for the two races and you finished a very good fourth in the first race on the Saturday – and your consistency and consistently strong performances were not going unnoticed.

Thomas Ferrando, the 2017 Euro Nascar Elite 2 Champion who joined Mark Warrell in the TV commentary box, made the following comments while you sat on the grid having qualified sixth for the race on the Sunday – “Advait, who won the Elite Club Championship last year does a pretty great job – quite amazing for his first season. He brings intelligence and it is amazing to see how he progresses and works the car to be so smooth”

Praise indeed, Phil – especially given that Thomas is competing in Elite 1 this year and is level pegging in the Elite 1 Championship after 8 races with Jacques Villeneuve. I am very grateful for his and Mark Warrell’s comments.

However, your second race at Autodrom Most did not quite go as you hoped – even though you had qualified the car a very respectable sixth on the grid.

No, at the very first corner, as over 20 cars in very close proximity jostled for position, I was tagged by another car and spun off the track into the gravel. A few other cars went off track temporarily but the whole field went off into the distance leaving me in last place and with a stalled engine. Eventually, I got started and set off to see if I could at least catch up with the back of the field.

But you did slightly better than that, cutting through the field like a knife through butter and by lap seven you had moved up to thirteenth, occasioning Thomas and Mark on TV to once again extol your virtues – “ A really good recovery drive by Advait Deodhar. He’s smooth behind the wheel, cool in the paddock, nice to speak to and always smiling”

The car was great and I was determined to make up as many places as I could. I was on a mission and I really enjoyed the chase and the challenge.

By lap 13 of the 14 lap race, your determined driving had incredibly taken you up to seventh and Thomas and Mark were once again commenting on your ability – “Advait Deodhar is doing a really good job – been good all year. He pushes hard and he is being consistent which is what really matters”

As I said at the time, it was the drive of my life! Sure, I would have liked to have won the race or at least have been on the podium but it is what it is – I enjoyed the drive, got good points and it is more than I thought I would achieve when I was spun out and left in the gravel at turn one.

I think that your drive was very well summed up by Mark Warrell talking to Thomas Ferrando in his TV commentary – “From a spin at the first corner and to the back of the field and then up to seventh – not a bad performance is it? What a recovery drive!”

Advait, you are sitting in a very commendable third position after 8 races and at the halfway stage of the Championship and I wish you all the very best for the second half and in your search for a sponsor.

Thank you Phil – Once again your support is greatly appreciated.


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